Florida took a pounding in the press this past week with an accumulation of reports pointing out the fact that five members of the football program, including four players, had been accused of violence against women.
The most recent revelation involved John Huggins, who was accused late last year by a female tutor of choking her after the 19-year-old student confiscated the player’s cellphone. For whatever reason, though, the alleged victim declined to pursue charges against Huggins; conversely, the defensive back didn’t play in the last five games of last season after the incident, seemingly serving a previously unreported suspension.
Fast-forward to 2019 and Huggins had remained away from the team since the start of summer camp this month as he continued to deal with what was only being described as a “family situation” that head coach Dan Mullen said was unrelated to the accusations a year ago; that sabbatical will apparently become permanent, however, as it’s now being reported that Huggins has been dismissed from the Gators.
Huggins was a three-star member of the Gators’ 2018 recruiting class, rated as the No. 28 safety in the country. He played in the first eight games of his true freshman season before his non-suspension suspension went into effect.
Prior to the off-field issues coming to light, Huggins had been expected to play an expanded role in Florida’s ever-thinning secondary this coming season.
As for the other incidents involving members of the UF program since Mullen took over?
- Four-star 2018 signee Justin Watkins was arrested twice in a two-month span last year. The first was on a misdemeanor charge of trespassing on school grounds after a verbal argument with an unidentified female turned violent as Watkins shattered the woman’s cellphone, kicked her vehicle and attempted to let the air out of her tires. The second was even more serious as Watkins was arrested and booked on four charges, including a pair of third-degree felonies (false imprisonment/kidnapping and domestic battery by strangulation) as well as two misdemeanors (first-degree battery), after allegedly pinning his girlfriend to a bed, punching her with a closed fist and choking her on three separate occasions. He announced in late July of last year that he was leaving UF “to better my opportunities.”
- In early May of this year, it was reported that four-star 2019 signee Jalon Jones had been accused by an unnamed female of sexually assaulting her in the early morning hours of April 6. It was subsequently unearthed that another unnamed female had accused the UF quarterback of sexually assaulting her that same day as well at the same on-campus residence as the first alleged victim. As was the case with Watkins, Jones left UF and ultimately landed at an FCS school.
- Otis Yelverton was arrested in April on one count of aggravated cyberstalking, which also led to his dismissal as UF’s assistant director of player personnel. It was alleged at the time that, among the 40-plus calls, Facebook messages and texts the 51-year-old Yelverton sent/made to his former girlfriend, one included a threat to blow up her car. Late last week, and citing “insufficient evidence to sustain a conviction,” the State’s Attorney’s Office formally dismissed the case against Yelverton.
- In May, defensive back Brian Edwards was arrested on one count of misdemeanor battery after allegedly abusing his girlfriend, although charges were never formally filed due to insufficient evidence. Edwards entered the NCAA transfer portal in early July and transferred to Central Michigan a month later.